No comment, minister tells TV presenter
The minister responsible for a new times tables check for primary school children refused to answer a multiplication sum on TV yesterday.
Nick Gibb was asked by Good Morning Britain presenter Jeremy Kyle what the answer is to eight times nine.
But the school standards minister did not answer, instead telling Kyle and fellow presenter Kate Garraway: “I’m not going to get into this. I’ve learnt through bitter experience never to answer these kinds of questions on live television.”
He added: “I’m very tempted to, but I’m not going to.”
Garraway told Gibb he was a “very successful person who clearly can add up and do maths”, adding: “Why is it so important for an eight-year-old to do it when clearly you feel vulnerable about it, and there you are, a government minister?”
The minister responded: “No eightyear-old or nine-year-old will be doing it on live television.”
Gibb was on the programme to talk about the government’s new times tables check for eight- and nine-year-olds, which will be trialled this spring following a review of primary school assessment. While supporters have argued that the check will help to ensure that all children know their tables up to 12 off by heart, the move has been controversial, with opponents raising concerns about the educational benefits. The National Association of Head Teachers described the move as “hugely disappointing”. Nick Brook, the union’s deputy general secretary, said the tests “won’t tell teachers and parents anything they don’t already know about their children”.
It is understood that around 290 primaries in England, around 7,250 pupils, are expected to take part in the trials. The check will be compulsory from 2020.
The test will last a maximum of five minutes and allow teachers to monitor a child’s progress, the DfE said.
Gibb has said: “Just as the phonics screening check helps children who are learning to read, the multiplication tables check will help teachers identify those pupils who require extra support. This will ensure that all pupils leave primary school knowing their times tables off by heart and able to start secondary school with a secure grasp of the fundamental mathematics they need to fulfil their potential.”
Nick Gibb, the minister responsible for the times tables check for children